Dead Frog Weeping Reaper Blood Orange Helles Bock

deadfrog_weepingreaperBrewer: Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove, BC
Style: Fruit Pale Bock/Maibock
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: This seasonal beer is offered as an alternative to the usual run of Autumn Pumpkin ales and Marzens. Appropriately, this beer is crafted from a combination of Pilsner, Vienna and Munich malts. It is then bittered with Norther Brewer and Hallertau hops before being infused with a dose of blood orange, giving it an extra citrus kick that balances well with its pale, rich malt.

Tasting Notes: This was certainly an interesting seasonal release, but one which is not dissimilar to the lagers – aka. Oktoberfest/Marzen lagers – that usually come with Fall. But to just to be real experimental, it comes with a fruit infusion that screams warm weather! But that’s Dead Frog for ya! The only people I know who are more unconventional are the folks at P49. In any case, this was an appealing and refreshing brew that was just out of the ordinary enough to be interesting without being inappropriate for the season.

Appearance: Orange/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, hint of sweetness and citrus rind
Taste: Slightly sweet malt, syrupy, good tang, hint of sweetness, citrus bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt sweetness and citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller Barley Wine 2013

oldcellardweller_2013Now here is a holiday beer I was not expecting to sample. Usually when I see a beer I’ve had before, I do not feel particularly compelled to hurry up and try it again. But in this case, I heard tell from a friend and fellow zythophile (Hi Mike!) that it was quite different from its previous incarnations. This should really not have come as a surprise, as last year’s Old Barrel Dweller was quite a departure. Whereas 2011’s was the first Old Cellar I ever sampled, 2012’s was bourbon barrel-conditioned. I guess I just assumed this year’s would be back to its old self.

But as Mike pointed out, this year’s barley wine was actually quite different, in a way that made it seem more like an Imperial IPA. And in this, he was exactly right. Though it ranks in at a whopping 11.6% alc/vol, the similarities pretty much stop there. In terms of color, malt backbone, and hop content, an English-style barley wine is dark, slightly coarse, sugary, and contains strong traces of dark fruit (plums, dates, prunes, raisins, etc). This beer, on the other hand, is light in color, has a syrupy malt backbone, but is otherwise characterized by very strong hops and a powerful alcoholic bite.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong citrus nose, syrupy malts
Taste: Slightly sweet malt start, strong notes of pine, citrus, passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and coarse malts
Overall: 8/10

All in all, the only thing that seemed consistent about this beer with its professed style is its alcoholic content. It is certainly not a bad vintage or a bad beer, but again I feel this is a case of a “barley wine” that was mislabeled. Strangely enough, the last one was also a BC beer (Scandal Brewing’s Mt. Everest) that produced a barley wine that seemed much more like a Maibock. I sincerely hope this is not the beginning of a trend!

Scandal Mt. Everest Barleywine

mt.everest1

Holiday greetings to everyone! As this is the season, and since I’ve exhausted my neighbors supply of beer, I have decided to once again go shopping for beers that goes well with the holiday spread and spirit. And one such procurement was Scandal Brewing’s Mt. Everest Barley Wine. As part of their Seven Wonders series, this beer is Scandal’s strongest customer, and one which I’ve been meaning to try for some time. So far, all I’ve managed to sample from this brewery is their Organic Ale, part of their regular lineup. But given that it was a pleasant experience, I had to see what they could do with a limited release.

Weighing in at an impressive 9% alc/vol and a robust 65 IBUs, this beer is fashioned with organic two-row and crystal 60 malts, as well as German summit and hallertau tradition hops. And the addition of spring water also comes through with a slight mineral quality that comes through in the aftertaste. Though it is listed as a barley wine, this beer was more reminiscent to me of a Maibock, boasting the same kind of semi-sweet malts, good tang, and a mild hop bite. But being intensely strong, it also has a strong alcoholic punch, and a slightly spicy notes that are reminiscent of anise or allspice.

Appearance: Amber, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of sugar and subtle, dry hops
Taste: Slightly sweet malts, strong tang, alcoholic bite, dry hops, hints of allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and mild spice traces and minerality
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad brew at all, though I do think it was slightly mislabeled. In my experience, barley wines are dark, fruity, and rich, whereas this beer is on the lighter side in terms of color, and has a flavor profile far more consistent with a Maibock. Still, it was a very pleasant drinking experience and I look forward to seeing what else Scandal has to offer with its Seven Wonders series.

Lighthouse 15th Anniversary Ale

Lighthouse_15thanniversaryAs promised, I’m back with one of Victoria’s most important and summer limited releases. It seems that this year marks the Lighthouse Brewing Company’s 15th anniversary. And to celebrate, they have produced an anniversary ale which was clearly made with the brewery’s history in mind. I say this because over the years, the brewery has shown quite the range when it comes to producing different styles of beer. This has included the standard lineup, consisting of your typical British and American-style ales, but has also extended to include continental and time-honored varieties that are sightly more esoteric.

And it seems that all of these have gone into the creation of this ale, which interestingly enough, names no specific variety on the label. And you’ll understand why as soon as you taste it. It’s dark and possesses some of the toasted, subtle tones of a brown, but is packed with some discernable sugars and is potently strong. And then there’s the hops and yeast, distinctly British in origin, and the Maibock like tang and sweetness that lingering on the palate. It is a brown? It is a barely wine? Is it a bock? Is it a bitter? Well… yes, and no, and all the above.

Appearance: Dark brown, transparent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry English hops, light, nutty brown malts, sugars
Taste: Immediate burst of roasted malts, tang, notes of brown sugar and dry, bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness and tang, similar to Maibock, and dry hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad way to mark 15 years of brewing: produce a beer that cuts across styles and traditions and offers some very varied taste. And of course, Lighthouse is no stranger to this trend, as exemplified by their Big Flavor series. Here, they would combine two distinct styles to produce some rather powerful and flavorful beers. This time around, they appear to have combined about four that I can discern, and with some rather flavorful results. Get some before its gone!

Oh, and Happy Birthday Lighthouse!

Cannery Pink Mountainhops Maibock

pink-mountainhops-bigAnd we’re back with another sample from the Canadian Band Beer Series, my third sampling of the lineup and just one shy of completion. Today, it is the Cannery Brewery’s contribution to this CBC-sponsored series, known as Pink Mountainthops – a Maibock brewed in honor of Vancouver-based psychedelic rock legends Pink Mountaintops.

And this latest variety seems very appropriate, seeing as how this past Spring brought its fair share of Maibocks – such as Driftwood’s Mountain Goat Maibock and Moon Under Water’s Brewvic Maibock come to mind. And this one was consistently good, combining a strong sense of tang, German noble hops, a touch of sweet, sugary malts, and a refreshing finish.

Appearance: Golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Slightly sweet malts, mild hop nose
Taste: Immediate tang, slightly sweet malts, dry and herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and tang, quite refreshing
Overall: 8/10

Just one more to go, and according to my research, RandB brewery are the ones responsible for its creation. Its known as You Say Barely, We Say Rye, a rye ale and named in honor of Abbotsford’s own You Say Party, and I look forward to tracking it down!

Two Victorian Maibocks

maibocks

Hello all and welcome to another two-fer. Today, as I get ready to head back to the Sunshine Coast Trail with my darling wife, I am reviewing two beers that are both of the Maibock variety. Ever since I tried my first, which was Holstein’s own, I was a fan of the seasonal beer that combines slightly sweet, heavier malts and sugars with mild hops and a generally refreshing quality. And in addition to including a beer that I’ve been meaning to review for some time, I managed to grab a new and surprising limited release. Here’s what they were and what I had to say about them…

Lighthouse Mountain Goat Maibock:lighthouse_maibock_3weeds
At long last, I’m getting around to giving this beer its due with a fitting review. I believe I’ve sampled this beer three times at this point, and enjoyed it every time, but never had I been able to take down its particulars and give it the four point assessment. And I’ve been meaning to, since I was quite impressed with it the first time and have remained so since.

Much like all of Lighthouse’s limited releases, this beer has legs and some genuine signs of craftbrewing quality. And like a good Maibock, its got a good balance of sweet malts, mild tang, light hops, and a good long, semi-bitter finish. It also boasts an interesting balance of fruit and honey, both in terms of scent and taste. And all of this rounds out quite nicely in the finish, which is long but ultimately refreshing.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild hops, notes of mango and honey
Taste: Immediate sweetness, honey, mild tang, mild hops
Aftertaste: Mild cloying quality, lingering coarseness
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Brewvic Maibock:moonunderwater_maibock
The second sample comes from one of my favorite local operations. Moon Under Water began as a purveyor of sessional ales, but then switched over to a more diverse and challenging array of beers shortly thereafter. And I’ve had nothing but good things to say about their old and new lineup. And now that they are creating seasonal and limited release beers, I’d say the circle is now complete. And how fitting that the first of these be a Maibock, a venerable brew that’s in time for summer?

And overall, I was quite pleased. Thought this one leaned towards the lighter end of things, in all departments, it remained a balanced and appealing example of a Maibock. And I was quite impressed that the Moon Under Water brewery has branched out to seasonal releases so soon after releasing an entirely new lineup, which already consisted of four really good beers! So really not a bad start to an expanded repertoire, and I look forward to their next one.

Appearance: Amber-gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly cloying nose, mild hops
Taste: Immediate burst of mild sweetness, giving way to tang and dry hops
Aftertaste: Slight coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Lighthouse 3 Weeds Belgian Wit

lighthouse_maibock_3weedsHello folks. Today, I come to you with a review of a beer that I’ve been neglected for a few weeks now. While this beer has been available, at least in my area, since May, I’ve been hesitant due to the sheer number of Belgian Wits and other assorted wheat beers that have been making the rounds lately. But of course, I am a fan of the variety and I really can’t stand letting a limited release pass me by, so I decided to get on it!

It’s known as the 3 Weeds Belgian Wit, and much like their recent Mountain Goat Maibock (which I have tried a few times but have yet to review), was released in May in honor of spring. Brewed in the traditional Belgian wheat style, it combines pilsner and wheat malts with rolled oats, hops and a dose of coriander spice and ginger. This makes for a brew that can rival the better wits I’ve tried, boasting a gentle malt profile, a yeasty backing, and a some spicy notes that are varied and complimentary.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Spicy nose, yeast, discernible coriander
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast and mild fruit, pineapple, citrus, spiciness
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and yeast flavor, ginger tang
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. And I was especially intrigued by the addition of ginger, which manages to compliment the coriander quite nicely. Whereas most Wits rely on orange rind or some other citrusy addition to do this, here you get a more layered spicy flavor in the end. It’s especially good as a warm weather beer, but was well-paired with the spicy food that I ate alongside it. I’m actually sorry I resisted it for as long as I did. This and the Maibock would have made a great two-fer review!

Rogue Brewery!

Many a time I’ve reviewed individual Rogue products and thought to myself, “damn, I need to do a full on review of the brewery, give credit to every beer I’ve ever had from them”. Hell, I think I’ve even said as much in a post here or there. Well, I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is – literally, since some of them were hard to obtain and involved the cost of travel to procure! And coupled with others that I’ve tried over the years, I’ve finally been able to prepare a full list. It’s been difficult given the fact that seasonals come and go, and one can scarcely remember everything one tries (especially when they drink like I do!), but I assure you, I’ve done my best. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

American Amber Ale: I’ve sampled many amber ales in my day, and I’ve come to expect a certain consistency from them. More often than not, they are smooth, light, tawny on the tongue, and are more malty than hoppy in terms of flavor. This is certainly the case with the American Amber. The taste is both complex, yet light, with smooth, slightly viscous malts and a light hop finish. An enjoyable beer when paired with food or as light-drinking fare. 3.75/5

Brutal IPA: This beer I sampled and reviewed last november, as part of my “Month of IPA’s”. And little’s changed since I reviewed it last! A year later and I still it a fitting examples of a west coast IPA, combining a crisp taste, powerful, floral hops and a good alcoholic bite! Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it more than lives up to its name! 4/5

Chipotle Ale: An interesting experiment in beer-making, and one which I just had to try. And I was not disappointed, nor particularly surprised. Overall, this is a perfectly fine ale and characteristic of rogue brewing, combing a good hoppy ale with the slight hint of peppers and a mild spicy aroma. Perhaps I was expecting something different, but with a name like Chipotle, one would expect more of a punch! However, this remains a very decent ale and given its mild bite, would be well-paired with spicey food. 3.75/5

Chocolate Stout: A first for me, in that it was the first time I had ever tried a chocolate stout. Since that time, it seems like everyone is doing a chocolate or coffee stout/porter. And having tried several, I can still honestly say that this one is my favorite. Whereas most stouts tend to have a bitter, almost burn like flavor to them due to the dark malts used (what is typically described as coffee notes), Rogue’s own manages to come off very smooth. And the chocolate notes are the result of real chocolate being used. No artificial flavors here! 4/5

Dead Guy Ale:One of Rogue’s most famous beers, and definitely the easiest to find here in Canada. Done in the style of German Maibock but still boasting a Pacific Northwest character, this beer is deep honey in color, has a rich, malty profile, a strong bite of hops and a relatively sweet profile. It’s also garnered several awards, including silver medals three years running at the World Beer Championships (from 2005 to 2007).4/5

Hazelnut Brown Nectar: I believe I’ve mentioned several times in the course of my reviews how craft brewing has been coming back into vogue in the last few decades. And if there’s one beer that is consistently becoming more popular, its the Brown Ale. True to form, Rogue recently released their own spin on the traditional Brown, combining the flavor or roasted nuts with brown malts in order produce this beer. Living in Victoria, nestled between so many great micro-breweries, each one producing its own exceptional browns, I felt this baby had some stiff competition. And yet it still came out with top marks!  Rich, dark and tawny, like a good brown, this baby is also smooth and boasts a true nut flavor that is paired well with deserts and Christmas cookies (recent experience will attest to this)! 4/5

Irish Lager: This is going back a ways, but many years back, I spotted this brew in my favorite LCBO located on Rideau street at the edge of downtown Ottawa. I believe I bought it as part of a Rogue taster pack, since this particular LCBO could always be counted on to stack plenty of Rogue products. At the time, I was relatively un-wowed, but that was before I developed an appreciation for lighter beers. Today, I would classify this as a nice, light fare, clean, crisp and refreshing, like a good lager! Its also good when paired with food, though it is also recommended for making Guinness floats. That I will have to try… (personally, I’d recommend using a different stout, but a good idea is a good idea!) 3/5

Juniper Pale Ale: Yet another rare one that I tried when visiting my sis and bro-in-law in Oregon. And, much like with the Yellow Snow IPA (see below) I’ve tried to get my hands on some ever since! It was seriously that good. A delicious ale, red in color, with strong, floral hops, a crisp bite, and a lingering finish that is highly reminiscent of juniper berries, this beer is an all around hit! If you can’t find some, I recommend finding a local beer store that’s been known to carry some Rogue products and putting it on order. 4/5

Yellow Snow IPA: The name might deter some, but for me, this beer is a classic, one which I discovered by accident when visiting Portland in 2004 with my sis and bro in law. The color is consistent with the name, a nice golden orange. Strong hops, a good bite, a long dry finish, and a rating of 80 IBU make this a genuine IPA. After trying it for the first time, I would struggle to get my hands on some here in Canada.  It’s not easy, but thanks to my sweetheart, I enjoyed a nice cold bottle this Christmas, and thanks to my folks, I enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug! What a perfect experience! 5/5

Ah, and speaking of this Christmas, my darling bride was also able to procure for me some tasty samples from the Pike Brewery that I have been unable to get here in Canada as well. Expect a review dedicated to them as well soon. As with all my Christmas beers by Rogue, they too were enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug!

As a finale note, here is a link to Rogue’s website, and a picture of Jack Joyce, the co-founder and CEO of Rogue which I happened to come across in the course of my research into them. Doesn’t he just look like a brewer?!

http://www.rogue.com/

Jack Joyce, Co-Founder and CEO